As a musician, I love nothing more than complex harmonies, instrumental mastery, and marking time in beats and measures. Yet my inner being revolts against smooth jazz. Some time ago my other half put some into the living room, creating a bit of a shopping mall atmosphere, and I cringe. Why? Because this music seems, at least to me, intent on generating a sense of dawdling inconsequentiality, a bland, shallow peace and mode of passing time leisurely, easy-goingly, saunteringly. In a time of unprecedented availability of information and choice, break-neck pace and immense pressures, it generates a much-needed, yet false sense of serenity.
While i write and you read this, we are reaching 100 million barrels of crude oil being used every single day (as of late 2018). With one barrel being approx. 159 litres, and a bathtub holding about 180 litres, this equates to round about a thousand bathtubs overflowing with crude oil being used per *second*! The rate of Amazonian rainforest loss is decreasing, but the chainsaws still howl down about 6,000km² per year, that’s the size of approx. one and a half standard football pitches every minute. In just 30 years, we have lost three quarters of our insect species and numbers. We are degrading and poisoning our land, and ourselves, with ever new chemicals. Through fractional reserve banking, the world’s central banks are generating anything around $10,000 per second out of thin air, and the returns on this bogus “investment” are approaching a few cents per sham dollar “created”. The most wealthy one percent now have over 50 percent of the world’s “wealth” (even if much of this wealth is a bubble). People who own lots of money can generate ever more money, extracting it from a real economy that is buckling under the futile effort of trying to keep up with exponential growth. Mammon rule dictates the real economy entirely unrealistic terms. And so we go through ever more stuff ever more quickly, design products to break as soon as possible (after warranty) and make them hard to repair, thus generating gigantic heaps of “waste” we burn up or dump onto other humans to deal with. The neo-colonialism of the “developed” (aka degenerate) world exploiting countries we call “poor” or “Third World” is sickening. Greedy corporations bottle up drinking water and sell it back to the people around the well; convince mothers that breastfeeding babies is dangerous and they should use formula milk instead; sell infertile seeds to keep farmers dependent… don’t let the shopping mall music fool you — we are on this side of peace. And we better get ready. There’s nothing wrong with relaxation in this hectic world. Just don’t be fooled.
Troubles are ahead of us like the world has never seen. The Holy Scriptures clearly prophecy it. And even if you don’t believe that these prophecies are valid and still ahead of us, then at least you would have to admit that by our depravity, greed and injustice have reached heights throughout just the last couple of decades from where we will inevitably have to come crashing down, at some point in the not too distant future.
I am thankful for each day that I get to sit in the sun and live in relative peace. There are days when I’m tempted to think that giving my best at work and raising my kids with presence and loving directionality, and fostering some friendships, and managing my household affairs prudently, plus, as time allows, read some books, learn a language, and see some other parts of the world was all that life offered and demanded of me. Then smooth jazz should help me keep my cool, remain calm, have a swing in my knees sauntering through life. Nothing wrong with that, in fact dancing, singing and humour are most essential in bearing life, so that the furrows between my eyebrows don’t turn into mountains of steel, and keeping aware that life is not that serious, that Abba, our heavenly Dad, is always in control.
And yet, these are foreboding times, and they will turn into the craziest period in world history to ever occur. Better not be aware? Let’s eat and drink because tomorrow there will be more of the same, or we die? Yes I may be more concerned, even more miserable because of what I believe is in store for us. But I will also be less attached to the things of this world, and more focussed on preparing. Even if what I can do by way of preparation is pathetic while running in the hamster wheel of making a living.